• 14 Apr 2014 /  Reviews

    HUMONGOUS

    1981/18/89m

    “Here are the monsters little toys. Once they were little girls and boys.”

    Director: Paul Lynch / Writer: William Gray / Cast: Janet Julian, David Wallace, Janit Baldwin, John Wildman, Joy Boushel, Layne Coleman, Shay Garner, Garry Robbins.

    Body Count: 8

    Laughter Lines: “Wave to Donna, she wants you to see her tits again.”

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    Prom Night director Paul Lynch made this ultimately disappointing tale of brothers Eric and Nick, their sister Carla, and girlfriends Donna and Sandy crash their cruiser into rocks amidst a fog in a channel by a remote hole known lovingly as Dog Island.

    A stranded fisherman they pick up informs them the only resident is a scarcely seen mad old lady. Stuck on the island, the teens begin to split up to look for help and find the now missing Carla. To the surprise of nobody except the cast, a maniac is also roaming the overgrown isle with a taste (and not just of the metaphor kind) for teen blood. Turns out that he is the mutant son of said mad dame, the product of a rape seen in the opening few minutes in 1946, and a bit hungry since mom died and cut off his access to the outside world.

    While relatively well pieced together on a visual level, the 89 minutes slog by with all the speed of a one-wheeled shopping cart, and the dimly-lit or totally off-screen murders don’t punctuate these slabs of boredom adequately. As for the cast, Julian does well as the final girl who obviously watched Friday the 13th Part 2 before the boat trip, as she mimics the killer’s dead mother to stop him in his tracks. This is the film’s best scene. The only other impressionable presence is Baldwin as Carla, with her huge glasses and lifejacket, she portrays the only memorable character in a film otherwise filled with assembly-line bimbos and wannabe-Rambo’s.

    Blurbs-of-interest: David Wallace was also in Mortuary; Joy Boushel has a small role in Terror Train; Garry Robbins was one of the three mutant-men in Wrong Turn.

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  • 11 Apr 2014 /  Lists

    *According to me! Me, me, me! So don’t be surprised to find a few curious omissions…

    #100-91 // #90-81 // #80-71 // #70-61 // #60-51 // #50-41 // #40-31 // #30-21

    20: A Nightmare on Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors (1987)

    In many ways the pinnacle of the Elm Street franchise, as well as the first proper horror movie I ever saw (religious parents). Wes Craven returned to help scribe Nancy’s return to the throng after the disappointing returns from the change of direction in Freddy’s Revenge (which I maintain is still a cool film). Nance comes back as an intern at a psyche ward inhabited by a bunch of Krueger-plagued teens. While the final act may falter, the first two acts represent some of the most imaginative stuff around and, for the era, progressive FX work, featuring what are likely to be some of the fan-favourite demises for the beleaguered teens…

    Crowning moment: Although both the ‘vein-puppet’ and the TV-room death register high on the amazing-kill-o-meter, I’ve got to say the DVD extra of spandex-metal band Dokken’s squealy Dream Warriors music video is something else and MUST be seen.

    19. Hell Night (1981)

    Irwin Yablans confidently declared that Hell Night would be bigger than Halloween! However, by the time it’s summer ’81 release rolled around, log-jam and fatigue had set in and nobody really cared… Anyway, Linda Blair and collegiate pals are dared to spend one night in the gloomy Garth Manor to finalise their pledge to a fraternity/sorority combo. Alas, the legends of its ‘haunting’ by a crazed killer turn out to be true…

    Check out its rendering in Lego!

    Crowning moment: Once Blair’s Marti is the last girl standing, she shifts gears into heroine-overdrive and the killer’s denouement is something to behold.

    18: Behind the Mask: The Rise of Leslie Vernon (2006)

    Outside of horror circles, this sharp docu-satire is barely known, which is upsetting when you think about how much money Scary Movie probably made… A film crew follow Glen Echo resident Leslie Vernon as he builds up to a massacre he’s planning at an old farmhouse. From selecting his ‘survivor girl’, to dodging his ‘Ahab’ (Robert freakin’ Englund!), Leslie explains how it will all unfold, even taking a moment to discuss phallic weaponry and psychoanalysis of the heroine’s successful survival. Fucking fantastic stuff.

    Crowning moment: My favourite moment will give too much away, but let’s just say the pivot point where the cameras are put down as the killing gets real is very nicely done.

    17: April Fool’s Day (1986)

    Privileged heiress Muffy St. John invites a group of college pals to her island home for Spring Break. They quote Boswell, play AFD jokes and start getting hunted down one by one. Or do they? While largely bloodless, April Fool’s Day is populated by a good cast of nice characters and is better directed and acted than most. I once read a genre guide that gave this film a zero, proclaiming it a cheat, while Return to Horror High received full marks. Riiiiight.

    Crowning moment: Scooby Doo-style mystery solving puts Amy Steel alone in a room with a seemingly PTSD-suffering Muffy, who has a few strange things to say…

    16: Wrong Turn (2003)

    On a West Virginian backroad, a group of campers are stranded after a car accident and find themselves to be the prey of a trio of cannibalistic inbreds. They note the similarity of their situation to Deliverance so critics didn’t have to (but  still did). What ensues is a taut chase through unknown terrain with ever depleting numbers as each and every escape plan is foiled by the psychos.

    Crowning moment: The fleeing campers come across a forest clearing filled with blood-stained cars. A rare sad moment in a horror film as Elisa Dushku questions how they’ve been getting away with it.

    15: Cold Prey II (2008)

    Surviving snowboarder Jannicke is saved and moved to a local hospital where the local cops also bring the bodies of her dead friends and that of the Fjellmannen (killer). He, of course, isn’t quite dead, and embarks on a new spree through the corridors of the hospital, forcing Jannicke to go through it aaaaall again. Yeah, it’s pretty much Halloween II but a gazillion times more interesting. Sequels don’t come much more cohesive and committed, even getting all of the original cast back to play their own corpses.

    Crowning moment: Jannicke says fuck it and decides to turn the tables and become the hunter, leading to an awesome showdown.

    14: The Initiation (1983)

    Sorority pledge Kelly (Daphne Zuniga) has long been plagued by a recurring nightmare. Her new college professor is interested in what it means and begins unraveling a family secret. Meanwhile, Kelly and pals break into a Houston shopping mall as their hazing prank. Unluckily for them, ‘someone’ has broken out of an asylum and is hell bent on killing everybody… Complex plotting (for a slasher film) with a mystery element that, for once, isn’t astoundingly obvious.

    Crowning moment: The all-too-short confrontation between Kelly and the killer. Kitsch as they come but awesome all the same.

    13: I Know What You Did Last Summer (1997)

    Horror purists condemned this po-faced response to Scream but 17 years on it’s something of a minor classic (the title alone is epic), stocked with era-famous talent. Two teen couples are involved in a hit and run they they cover up; One year later they begin receiving notes and threats pertaining to their crime and, on the July 4th anniversary, a hook-wielding maniac begins stalking and killing them.

    Crowning moment: Quite fittingly, as the film is essentially Prom Night all over again (despite being based on a book written in 1973), there’s a long, drawn out chase, this time featuring Buffy herself, Sarah Michelle Gellar.

    12: Scream (1996)

    Gasp! Not in the Top 10!? Don’t cry just yet. This genre-redefining film is awesome. Awesome. Kevin Williamson did for his characters what audiences had been doing for years – he clued them in. Before Scream, characters in slasher flicks existed like they’d never seen one (with one or two notable exceptions). Teamed with Craven, and right on the back of his series-redefining New Nightmare, they took the best parts of other films to create this satire of the whole enchilada. A party sits around watching Halloween, the ‘rules’ of horror are noted, and yet they still die. Essential viewing for any horror fan.

    Crowning moment: The opening 12 minutes, yeah, it’s a total rip-off of When A Stranger Calls, but Drew Barrymore throws herself into the victim-role with unmatchable intensity.

    11: My Bloody Valentine (1981)

    By this point in the first cycle of stalk n’ slash, no calendar holiday was safe from the swinging blades of a deranged psychopath. Valentine’s Day was soon nabbed in this Canadian slice of sadism in which a spooky Scooby Doo-like miner pick-axes residents of the town of Valentine Bluffs, twentysomething years after “The Murders!” A private party lures him back and a trip into the mine ends up with bodies lying everywhere. The 2009 uncut release improves things tenfold with the MPAA cuts restored.

    Crowning moment: Death by shower head.

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  • 07 Apr 2014 /  Reviews

    GRIM WEEKEND

    2003/18/97m

    A.k.a. S.I.C.K. Serial Insane Clown Killer

    “Five people… One weekend… 12 miles from nowhere… Let the killing begin.”

    Director/Writer: Bob Willems / Writer: Ken Hebert / Cast: Ken Hebert, Amanda Watson, Melissa Bale, Hank Fields, Chris Bruck.

    Body Count: 5

    Laughter Lines: “I guess I’m not used to being trapped in a secluded house with a fucking psychopath!”

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    Grim is a fitting moniker for this staggeringly bad made for TV slasher, which pits four city yuppies and a nubile hitchhiker (who looks like Rebecca Gayheart) against a clown-masked axeman stalking the woods by the country residence one of them owns.

    Formerly repressed memories of Camp Blood flood back thanks to the cheap shot-on-video production values, crappy acting and the fact that absolutely nothing happens for a solid hour after the hazy opening kill. One person vanishes and so the others go looking for her, split up despite the creepy-ass dolls they keep finding amongst the trees, and the husband of said vanishee consents to sex with the horny hitcher instead of looking for his spouse!

    It’s hard to believe that films this bad are still made, let alone unleashed on the shelves of video stores. The dialogue consists mainly of ‘shut the fuck up, bitch’, repeated arguments over who might be behind it, as well as name-checking Scream and Friday the 13th during the same-old-same-old campfire story.

    The film long outstays its welcome and grinds ever closer to the 100 minute mark before the repugnant conclusion and an equally cruddy ‘twist’ that sets things up for a sequel – if anybody is stupid enough to write to the producers praising them on a job well done. Abysmal in every way a film could be.

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  • 03 Apr 2014 /  Lists

    *According to me. Me, me, me! So expect to see some of your faves missing…

    See: #100-91 // #90-81 // #80-71 // #70-61 // #60-51 // #50-41 // #40-31

    30: Haute Tension (2003)

    Bord de votre siège vibrer de France. While the much maligned ending of ‘High Tension’ likely stops it from achieving a higher placing here, nobody can deny that the first three quarters of this film lives up to its name: Pure edge of yer seat tension. College friends Marie and Alex go to the latter’s secluded family home for a break when a madman in a creepy van stops by, slays the family and takes Alex hostage for more depraved yearnings. Marie, her presence unknown to the maniac, follows to try and rescue her friend, dodging the loon’s capture at every turn.

    Crowning moment: The killer stops at a gas station and Marie follows, keeping out of sight by the skin of her teeth.

    29: Wilderness (2006)

    And one place above is an abrasive piece of gritty horror from the shores of Britain. After the suicide of a bullied inmate at a juvenile detention center, a group of the responsible companions are sent to an island boot camp for punishment under the watch of Sean Pertwee. Similar delinquents from a girls’ center are also there along with an S.A.S.-trained killer who has a quartet of vicious attack dogs as his favoured weapon. Add in all manner of survival traps, self-serving characters, and a hefty dose of grue, and jolly old England won’t look like tea and cucumber sandwiches after all.

    Crowning moment: The initial attack on the camp, with Pertwee pinned to a tree with arrows while the dogs come running in and the others all panic and escape.

    28: Final Destination 2 (2003)

    One year after the crash of Flight 180, a college girl has a premonition of a freeway pile-up, blocks an on-ramp, and subsequently saves several lives. But soon after, they all start dying in weird accidents and she turns to sole survivor from the first go-round, Ali Larter, for help. While much of the dwelling on mortality is gone, essentially replaced with the bus splatter shock factor from part one over and over, the ‘rules’ of the franchise were cemented in this installment, which features inventive but not yet ludicrous means for Death to off his quarry.

    Crowning moment: The opening accident is rendered in terrifying realism, though I’m a fan of the horribly scripted scene where the survivors realise that each event from the first film gave them a one-year stay of execution. Kudos to the actors for keeping straight faces while delivering such awful dialogue.

    27: Urban Legends: Final Cut (2000)

    Students at a film school competing for the coveted Hitchcock Award wish they’d left well enough alone when budding director Amy (Jennifer Morrison) begins a film where a killer offs people based on urban legends. Of course, cast and crew are soon being done in for real. Does ex-Pendleton University security officer Reese (Loretta Devine) see history repeating? Goofy and replete with cliches, but lots of fun.

    Crowning moment: The Kidney Heist myth – discussed but never realised in the first film – is carried out on a young Jacinda Barrett.

    26: Friday the 13th (2009)

    The most un-’remakey’ of the slasher remakes, Platinum Dunes at least had the sense to make their vision of Jason’s origins a sort of ‘Greatest Hits’ by combining elements of the early movies. Jared Padalecki is snooping around Crystal Lake looking for his missing sister, Whitney (the beautiful Amanda Righetti), when he and a group of college kids on vacation come under attack from a hockey masked nutter who just wants to be left alone to mourn his dead mom…

    Crowning moment: The open twenty-minutes of the film scream ‘pure’ Friday with a quintet of sexy campers sharing the story of Camp Crystal Lake around a roaring fire, smoking dope, showing tits, and getting slain by pre-hockey masked Jason.

    25: Sleepaway Camp II: Unhappy Campers (1988)

    More summer camp hi-jinks in the top-placed Sleepaway Camp outing. Several years after the Camp Arawak murders, kids at Camp Rolling Hills who piss of puritanical camp counsellor Angela (Pamela Springsteen, Bruce’s sister) are ‘sent home’. Also known as: stabbed, barbecued, power-drilled, chainsawed, and beheaded. Much like the opening section of the aforementioned Friday the 13th re-do, this has an appealing campy pureness about itself, unafraid to really be a cheeseball slasher film. Awful hairstyles and campers named after Brat Pack actors only elevate its status.

    Crowning moment: Angela takes on nasty girl Ally and, in a scene almost completely cut from the UK video releases, forces her down the pan of a shitty outhouse.

    24: Friday the 13th Part VI: Jason Lives (1986)

    And yet more summer camp fun! Jason 6 rectifies the ‘sins’ of A New Beginning (hated by most, loved by me!) by halting the concept of Tommy becoming the new Jason and instead having him accidentally bring Jason back from the dead. Zombie Jason then returns to Camp Crystal Lake (renamed Forest Green), for the first time found with kids, and hacks up horny teenage counsellors left, right and center.

    Crowning moment: Nice camp counsellor Paula escorts a scared camper back to bed and begins to realise a few people are missing. Spooked, she heads back to the main cabin only to find the bloody machete that’d been found has vanished. Then the door blows open…

    23: A Bay of Blood (1971)

    If Psycho and Peeping Tom were the mom and dad of slasher movies, then A Bay of Blood was their firstborn. Italian giallo at it’s most Friday the 13th-ey, several groups of people come to an island to lay claim to a land inheritance but a few of them have a homicidal streak and will kill off anyone who stands to thwart their plans… The scene with a quartet of teenagers who happen by and end up slaughtered contains almost everything that films would be made of a decade later.

    Crowning moment: The pictured bed shish-ke-bob kill that was later recreated in Friday the 13th Part 2.

    22: Halloween 4: The Return of Michael Myers (1988)

    Halloween III was a misfired attempt to take the series in a new direction, but as Jason Voorhees’ fortunes went up and up, in 1988 Moustapha Akkad and co. decided to bring Michael back from the dead. He returns to Haddonfield to kill his nine-year-old niece Jamie (Scream Queen to be, Danielle Harris), who is fiercely protected by her sister-by-adoption, Rachel. Donald Pleasence is also back as the ever borderline nuts Dr Loomis, spouting prophecies nobody will listen to. Easily the best of the Halloween sequels.

    Crowning moment: The rooftop tussle as Rachel and Jamie flee from Michael by crawling out on to the slates of a house full of dead people.

    21: Prom Night (1980)

    Six years after accidentally causing the death of a young girl, four high school teenagers are stalked and slain at their senior prom by a ski-masked killer out for revenge. Jamie Lee Curtis’ first post-Halloween slasher venture, a strange combo of Carrie and Saturday Night Fever, complete with an embarrassing disco dance scene, which was already dated before the film made it to the screen.

    Crowning moment: The epic eight-minute chase scene as nasty girl Wendy is chased around the dark corridors of the school by the axe-toting killer. Still the best chase scene in the genre.

  • 01 Apr 2014 /  Today I Love

    Yeah.

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